‘It's a part of me, I feel naked without it': choice, agency and identity for Muslim women who wear the niqab

Zempi, I. ORCID: 0000-0002-1719-8573, 2016. ‘It's a part of me, I feel naked without it': choice, agency and identity for Muslim women who wear the niqab. Ethnic and Racial Studies. ISSN 0141-9870

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Abstract

In the context of heightened suspicion and anti-Muslim stereotypes in a post-9/11 and 7/7 era, Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil) are stigmatised, criminalised and marked as ‘dangerous’ to British/Western values. Several countries have imposed bans on the wearing of face veils in public places based on the premise that the niqab is a ‘threat’ to notions of gender equality, integration and national security. While the wearing of the niqab has elicited a good deal of media, political and public debates, little attention has been paid to the opinions of Muslim women who wear it. Drawing on individual and focus group interviews with Muslim women who wear the niqab in the United Kingdom (UK), this article places at the centre of the debate the voices of those women who do wear it, and explores their reasons for adopting it. The findings show that the wearing of the niqab emerges as a personal choice, an expression of religious piety, public modesty and belonging to the ‘ummah’. It is also perceived as a form of agency, resistance and non-conformity to Western consumerist culture and lifestyle. It will be concluded that wearing the niqab empowers women in their public presence and offers them a sense of ‘liberation’, which is associated with the notion of anonymity that it provides them.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Ethnic and Racial Studies
Creators: Zempi, I.
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 22 March 2016
ISSN: 0141-9870
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1080/01419870.2016.1159710DOI
Depositing User: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 05 May 2016 12:58
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2017 03:00
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27736

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